Five Types of Therapy for Teen Depression

You might at first encounter resistance from your teenager, but if you get therapy sessions started, you and your child might see tremendous benefits.

It’s true that participating in therapy might still come with stigma, especially among your child’s teenage peers. But the pros outweigh the cons, both for your family in general, and for the development of your child.

If your teen is resistant, you might let them know that he or she has choices. There are variety forms of depression treatment, including psychotherapy, medication therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and art therapy.

Psychotherapy is essentially the opportunity for a teen to discuss his or her feelings with one person who is trained to listen and treat symptoms of depression. Psychotherapy can help a teenager manage his or her moods. If your child has been diagnosed with depression, a therapist can work with your child on specific mood managing techniques where medication might fall short. One specific form of psychotherapy, of many, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This treatment form is commonly used to treat teen depression.

CBT essentially aims to change behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. This successful form of therapy emphasizes the link between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and more importantly, it attempts to identify the way that certain thoughts contribute to the unique problems of your life. By changing the thought pattern and by replacing it with thoughts that are aimed towards a specific therapeutic goal, you can slowly begin to change. For example, instead of “I am worthless”; the new thought might be “I can do this”.

Medication Therapy is the use of psychotropic medication to treat teen depression. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain in order to stabilize a teen’s mood. Types of medication include antidepressants, antipsychotics, psycho-stimulants, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, and central nervous system depressants. Of course, medication often comes with side effects. Therefore, finding the right drug at the right dosage is an important step in making this treatment form effective.

Group therapy includes the presence of a therapist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional that is facilitating the group experience. Also in the room are others who are all experiencing the same diagnosis or life problem. For instance, adults who were sexually abused as children might make up a group in therapy. Typically, everyone in the room, aside from the therapist, is experiencing the same life challenge. Group therapy for teens with Bipolar Disorder can be incredibly supportive and healing.

Family Therapy focuses on the systems and relationships within a family network. It aims to change the relationship within families in order to help them better manage the specific problems they might be facing. This form of therapy is used with a wide range of mental illnesses and is based on two principles:

  • Many mental illnesses are made worse by the dysfunctions present in families.
  • Close family members are often the supports that an individual suffering from mental illness has and are therefore extremely important in treatment.

Art therapy is a form of treatment that uses creativity as a means to express feelings and thoughts. Rather, than talking which is deeply associated with social norms, expressing oneself creatively can allow the expression of what a teen might otherwise not be able to say. Expressing through art activates a different part of the brain that speaks a different language. Plus, as teens are navigating the terrain of adolescence, art therapy can be particularly useful as their brain continues to develop.

The above listed therapies are commonly used to treat depression. In a national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 44% percent of high school students reported feeling sad and hopeless, and 19.9 percent expressed serious thoughts of committing suicide.

These are significant findings. Yet, if teens can find their way to therapy, they can turn their lives around. Of course, working with a mental health professional is essential in teen depression treatment.

Further Reading